But the king of Syria commanded his thirty and two captains that had rule over his chariots, saying, Fight neither with small nor great, save only with the king of Israel.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)His thirty and two captains.—See 1Kings 20:16; 1Kings 20:24. The power of Syria had already recovered itself, and is directed with singular virulence against the person of the king who had unwisely spared it. Ahab is represented as the mover of the whole war, and as fighting bravely to the death.1 Kings 22:31. Fight only with the king of Israel — This he ordered, truly supposing this to be the best way to put an end to the war; and by the providence of God, which disposeth the hearts of kings as he pleaseth, and which inclined them to this course, that they might, though ignorantly, accomplish his counsel. Perhaps Ben-hadad only designed to have taken him prisoner, that he might now give him as honourable a treatment as he had formerly received from him.His thirty and two captains that had rule over his chariots; and the men that fought from them, or with them, i.e. his whole army. Possibly the chariots and the whole army were distributed into thirty-two several parts, and each captain ruled those chariots and soldiers attending upon them, which fell to his share.
Save only with the king of Israel: this he ordered either in policy, truly supposing this to be the best way to put an end to the war; or with design to take him prisoner, that thereby he might wipe out the stain of his own captivity, and recover the honour and advantage which then he lost; or rather by the power and providence of God, which disposeth the hearts of kings as he pleaseth, and inclined them to this course, that they might, though ignorantly, accomplish his word and counsel. 1 Kings 20:1, and the same number he had now, being very probably not only the number of his chariots, but the division of his army was into so many battalions, under the command of these captains of chariots:
saying, fight neither with small nor great; of those that belonged to Jehoshaphat:
save only with the king of Israel; and his men; for it can hardly be thought that his orders were to fight with none, nor kill any in the battle but Ahab personally; though it is very probable he might give them directions to aim at him chiefly, knowing that, if he was killed or taken, his army would flee or surrender; and he might be desirous of getting him into his hands, as he had been in his; and the rather his spite was against him, as he was the mover of the war.But the king of Syria commanded his thirty and two captains that had rule over his chariots, saying, Fight neither with small nor great, save only with the king of Israel.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)31. But [R.V. Now] the king of Syria commanded [R.V. had commanded] his thirty and two captains]. The changes are as usual to conform to 2 Chronicles. These thirty-two captains were most likely those who had been chosen to supply the places of the thirty-two kings that were removed in the campaign of three years before (1 Kings 20:24).
that had rule over his chariots] R.V. of his chariots. For one word is rendered twice over, first ‘captains’ and then ‘that had rule.’ The command was given to these officers because they were in the front of the battle, the cavalry taking lead of the infantry.
Fight neither with small nor great] The meaning of the order is, that they should let no engagement with other persons prevent them, any more than they could help, from singling out Ahab and attacking him. It was the single combat of chiefs, but there were 32, any one of whom might attack him. Josephus however says ‘though the battle lasted from day dawn till evening, they slew no one, according to the king’s command, seeking only to destroy Ahab, and not being able to find him.’Verse 31. - But the king of Syria commanded [rather, had commanded. These words are of the nature of a parenthesis. "Now the king," etc. צִוָּה is so rendered in 2 Chronicles 18:30] his thirty and two captains [mentioned in 1 Kings 20:24. It does not follow, however (Wordsworth), that these very men had been spared by Ahab] that had rule over his chariots [Heb. chariotry. Another indication that the chariots were regarded as the most important arm of the Syrian service], saying, Fight neither with small nor great, save only with the king of Israel. [This Orientalism, translated into Western ideas, means, "Direct your weapons against the king." What Ahab had done to provoke such resentment is not quite clear. Rawlinson supposes that Ben-hadad's "defeat and captivity were still rankling in his mind, and he wished to retaliate on Ahab the humiliation which he considered himself to have suffered." But it is impossible to see in Ahab's generous conduct towards him a sufficient reason for the fierce hatred which these words disclose. It is much more probable that some affront had subsequently been offered to the Syrian monarch, possibly in the shape of the reproaches which Ahab may have addressed to him on account of his retention of Ramoth-Gilead, and the gross violation of the treaty of 1 Kings 20:34. It is also possible that he hoped that the death of Ahab would terminate the war (Bahr).] Genesis 18:8, etc.) on His right hand and on His left. And the Lord said, Who will persuade Ahab to go up and fall at Ramoth in Gilead? and one spake so, the other so; and the spirit came forth (from the ranks of the rest), stood before Jehovah, and said, I will persuade him...I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And He (Jehovah) said, Persuade, and thou wilt also be able; go forth and do so. And now Jehovah has put a lying spirit into the mouth of all his prophets; but Jehovah (Himself) has spoken evil (through me) concerning thee." The vision described by Micah was not merely a subjective drapery introduced by the prophet, but a simple communication of the real inward vision by which the fact had been revealed to him, that the prophecy of those 400 prophets was inspired by a lying spirit. The spirit (הרוּח) which inspired these prophets as a lying spirit is neither Satan, nor any evil spirit whatever, but, as the definite article and the whole of the context show, the personified spirit of prophecy, which is only so far a πνεῦμα ἀκάθαρτον τῆς πλάνης (Zechariah 13:2; 1 John 4:6) and under the influence of Satan as it works as שׁקר רוּח in accordance with the will of God. For even the predictions of the false prophets, as we may see from the passage before us, and also from Zechariah 13:2 and the scriptural teaching in other passages concerning the spiritual principle of evil, were not mere inventions of human reason and fancy; but the false prophets as well as the true were governed by a supernatural spiritual principle, and, according to divine appointment, were under the influence of the evil spirit in the service of falsehood, just as the true prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit in the service of the Lord. The manner in which the supernatural influence of the lying spirit upon the false prophets is brought out in Micah's vision is, that the spirit of prophecy (רוח הנבואה) offers itself to deceive Ahab as שׁקר רוּח in the false prophets. Jehovah sends this spirit, inasmuch as the deception of Ahab has been inflicted upon him as a judgment of God for his unbelief. But there is no statement here to the effect that this lying spirit proceeded from Satan, because the object of the prophet was simply to bring out the working of God in the deception practised upon Ahab by his prophets. - The words of Jehovah, "Persuade Ahab, thou wilt be able," and "Jehovah has put a lying spirit," etc., are not to be understood as merely expressing the permission of God, as the fathers and the earlier theologians suppose. According to the Scriptures, God does work evil, but without therefore willing it and bringing forth sin. The prophet's view is founded upon this thought: Jehovah has ordained that Ahab, being led astray by a prediction of his prophets inspired by the spirit of lies, shall enter upon the war, that he may find therein the punishment of his ungodliness. As he would not listen to the word of the Lord in the mouth of His true servants, God had given him up (παρέδωκεν, Romans 1:24, Romans 1:26, Romans 1:28) in his unbelief to the working of the spirits of lying. But that this did not destroy the freedom of the human will is evident from the expression תּפתּה, "thou canst persuade him," and still more clearly from תּוּכל גּם, "thou wilt also be able," since they both presuppose the possibility of resistance to temptation on the part of man.
Zedekiah was so enraged at this unveiling of the spirit of lying by which the pseudo-prophets were impelled, that he smote Micah upon the cheek, and said (1 Kings 22:24): "Where did the Spirit of Jehovah depart from me, to speak to thee?" To אי־זה the Chronicles add as an explanation, הדּרך: "by what way had he gone from me?" (cf. 2 Kings 3:8, and Ewald, 326, a.) Zedekiah was conscious that he had not invented his prophecy himself, and therefore it was that he rose up with such audacity against Micah; but he only proved that it was not the Spirit of God which inspired him. If he had been inspired by the Spirit of the Lord, he would not have thought it necessary to try and give effect to his words by rude force, but he would have left the defence of his cause quietly to the Lord, as Micah did, who calmly replied to the zealot thus (1 Kings 22:25): "Thou wilt see it (that the Spirit of Jehovah had departed from thee) on the day when thou shalt go from chamber to chamber to hide thyself" (החבה for החבא, see Ges. 75, Anm. 21). This was probably fulfilled at the close of the war, when Jezebel or the friends of Ahab made the pseudo-prophets suffer for the calamitous result; although there is nothing said about this in our history, which confines itself to the main facts.
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